Farmers: rely on ecology, not fertilizers and pesticides, says NRCS soil expert.

A recent article on the Progressive Farmer website features Ray Archuleta, a 33-year employee of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Archuleta’s views on fostering soil health reflect the best management practices for raising grass-fed beef. One of the recommended practices is using no-till cover crops for soil health and fertility and carbon sequestration.

“Our [conventional] farmers are running on ancient carbon, and it’s how we’re growing broke,” he says in the article, pointing to the reliance on fossil fuels that characterizes conventional agriculture. “We want our farms to run on new sunlight.”

According to the article, titled “Underground Movement 4,” Archuleta’s superiors at USDA headquarters have heard complaints in the past from lobbying groups that don’t want to hear an NRCS staffer talk about farm practices that rely on natural ecological systems and reduce inputs such as fertilizer or other chemicals.

New satellite data suggests that good grazing practices will increase rainfall.

It’s well established that rotational grazing, correctly managed, increases the organic matter in soil significantly. This in turns means that the soil holds more moisture. These facts have been measured with soil thermometers and moisture meters. Now satellite data allows us to measure effects of soil moisture on a large scale.

The article linked here says that the data suggests that grazing and other farming practice that build soil on a large scale will not only increase drought resiliency but also increase rainfall.

Maple Hill Creamery seeks to define grass-fed dairy

Founded in 2003, Maple Hill did not start producing yogurt until 2009. In just five years, the brand has become one of the top-selling grass-fed dairy brands on shelves.

But according to company representatives, there is a great deal of confusion about what “grass-fed” means. Some shoppers don’t understand that organic dairy cows, for example, can still be grain fed or live in crowded conditions.

“When consumers realize that what they thought was being done [with organic] isn’t, that’s the light switch,” CEO Tim Joseph noted. “It’s like ‘oh, grass-fed is what I envisioned all along but isn’t happening.’”

The company has raised capital to address this confusion and to raise brand awareness. Read more here.

Job posting: Big Picture Beef seeks Chief of Operations

BigPictureBeeflogoSMBig Picture Beef (BPB) is seeking a Chief of Operations (COO) to oversee the production and  distribution of 100% grass-fed beef to wholesale customers in the Northeast. The company’s mission is to establish an environmentally sustainable and economically viable model of producing beef through managed grazing—no feedlots and no grain, ever.

Big Picture Beef founder and CEO Ridge Shinn will work with numerous farms in the region to produce young stock according to BPB standards. Then BPB will aggregate these cattle for fattening on several large finishing farms, also in the region, that are staffed by skilled graziers.  A variety of regenerative farming techniques, notably rotational grazing to foster soil health and fertility, are key to the company’s mission. BPB will harvest the finished cattle in the region and sell locally grown 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef and beef products to Northeast wholesale customers.

The COO will be a member of the senior management team for this new and growing business. See the COO job description here.


Peer reviewed study shows net climate benefit of rotational grazing

A report published on Sept. 30, 2015 compares the net climate effect of various strategies for grazing beef cattle in the Southern Great Plains, where one-third of the U.S cow-calf operations are located.  The study, conducted by scientists from South Dakota University and Texas A&M, calculated both the emissions of methane from the animals’ digestive tracts and also the carbon sequestration occurring under the respective grazing scenarios as carbon is taken from the air and stored deep in the ground via photosynthesis and the action of soil microbes. Previous studies on beef production have generally omitted the carbon sequestration factor ,which mitigates the GHG emissions impact. The report concludes that rotational grazing, also known as multi-paddock grazing, is the best option for carbon mitigations and that farms employing this grazing strategy will likely be carbon sinks for decades. Read the report here.